Best longreads 2020

Our top 5 long reads of 2020

In-depth reporting that you may have missed.

We've made it to the final week of 2020—a big accomplishment in a year that felt never-ending.

With the holidays here, you may have a little more time to relax. Wondering what to do with that time? We've got you covered.


Kick up your feet, grab a mug of your favorite hot drink and settle in to catch up on our top five long reads of the year. From the ocean floor to the forests of North Carolina to the blustery North, below are our top investigations and features.

1. Unplugged: Abandoned oil and gas wells leave the ocean floor spewing methane

Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling

The Gulf of Mexico is littered with tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and toothless regulation leaves climate warming gas emissions unchecked.

2. How Europe’s wood pellet appetite worsens environmental racism in the US South

An expanding wood pellet market in the Southeast has fallen short of climate and job goals—instead bringing air pollution, noise and reduced biodiversity in majority Black communities.

3. ‘Them plants are killing us’: Inside a cross-border battle against cancer and pollution

Air pollution Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Two communities — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — share both a border along the St. Marys River and a toxic legacy that has contributed to high rates of cancer. Now the towns are banding together to fight a ferrochrome plant.

4. Microplastics in farm soils: A growing concern

Researchers say that more microplastics pollution is getting into farm soil than oceans—and these tiny bits are showing up in our fruits, veggies, and bodies.

5. Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

Hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to US food banks. But an EHN investigation found a lack of oversight that could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year.

Banner photo: The Algoma steel plant after sunset, in Sault Ste., Marie, Ont., on Friday, Jan., 17, 2020. (Credit: Christopher Katsarov Luna/EHN)

Cancer-causing benzene levels were cut in half at US refineries in 2023: Report

Texas refineries, however, still have some work to do.

HOUSTON — The number of U.S. oil refineries exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level for benzene in 2023 was cut in half compared to 2020, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project.
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Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
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environmental justice pittsburgh
Credit: Kristina Marusic for EHN

Environmental justice advocates find hope, healing and community in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Environmental justice advocates gathered last week to celebrate progress and chart a path to the future while focusing on healing, self care and mental health.

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powder river coal leasing
Credit: Jerry Huddleston/Flickr

Biden administration ends new coal leasing in Powder River Basin

The Biden administration moves to halt new coal leasing in the Powder River Basin, aiming to curb fossil fuel extraction.

Maxine Joselow reports for The Washington Post.

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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's new grid rule deepens partisan divisions

A recent FERC initiative aimed at modernizing the U.S. power grid has intensified partisan disagreements, threatening bipartisan efforts for a comprehensive permitting overhaul.

Kelsey Brugger reports for E&E News.

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Oil barge accident & spill
Credit: Patrick Feller/Flickr

Barge collision collapses Galveston bridge, triggers oil spill

A barge collision caused a partial collapse of a Galveston bridge, leading to an oil spill and the closure of the only road to Pelican Island.

Juan Lozano and Lekan Oyekanmi report for The Associated Press.

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Rep. Jamie Raskin probes oil companies over alleged Trump donation meeting

Rep. Jamie Raskin is demanding details from oil industry leaders about a reported meeting with Donald Trump, where deregulation promises were allegedly exchanged for campaign donations.

Erin Mansfield reports for USA Today.

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From our Newsroom
air pollution pittsburgh

Amidst a controversial international sale, U.S. Steel falls behind in cleaner steelmaking

U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Nippon Steel stokes concerns over labor rights and national security, all while the company continues to break clean air laws in Western Pennsylvania.

exxon houston petrochemicals

Spanish-speaking residents feel left out of permitting process at massive Exxon petrochemical plant in Houston-area

“It is important to ensure meaningful engagement efforts are inclusive and accessible to all diverse members of our communities.”

youth climate change

"Our lives might be on the line"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

sargassum

After 13 years, no end in sight for Caribbean sargassum invasion

Thousands of people were hurt by sargassum blooms last year in the Caribbean.

youth climate change

“We should take care of what is precious to us"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

earth day 2024

Earth Day reflections from the next generation

This week we're featuring essays from Houston-area eighth graders to hear what the youth think about the state of our planet.

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